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Ontario Arts Council

Guide to OAC Project Programs

Ontario Arts Council (OAC) project grant programs provide one-time grants for specific projects. Project grants are not meant to cover operating or ongoing expenses.

This guide provides essential information about OAC’s project grants, including eligibility, assessment process and policies. Be sure to review it prior to each application as information and policies are updated regularly and subject to change.

Details on specific project grant programs, including eligibility, are available on the grant program pages.

The guide includes the following:

For information in French or English contact:

Maya Bedward
Information Services Coordinator
Toll-free in Ontario 1-800-387-0058, ext. 7429
or OAC program administrator. Please refer to OAC staff list for contact information.
For assistance with technical issues you may encounter while using OAC’s online granting system (Nova), contact technical support:  
The OAC is committed to providing services in French according to the requirements of the French Language Services Act.

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Eligibility requirements

Eligible applicants include Ontario-based:
  • individual professional artists and/or arts professionals
  • ad hoc groups/collectives
  • organizations
All applicants must have a permanent physical address in Ontario.

In some project programs, municipalities, colleges/universities, school boards, First Nation and schools administered by a First Nation or Indigenous Education Authority are eligible.

Individuals must:
  • be a professional artist/arts professional
The OAC defines a professional artist/arts professional as someone who has developed skills through training or practice, is recognized by artists working in the same artistic tradition, has a history of public presentation or publication, seeks payment for her or his work and actively practices his or her art. Short breaks in artistic work history are acceptable.
  • be a Canadian citizen or a Permanent Resident of Canada, or have an application pending for Permanent Resident status and, if requested, be able to provide documentation to verify this.
  • be a resident of Ontario who has lived in Ontario for a minimum of one year prior to making a grant application, and
  • live in Ontario no less than eight months a year.
IMPORTANT: Absences from Ontario
In some circumstances, you may be eligible to apply to OAC while you are temporarily absent from Ontario (e.g. for employment or artistic opportunity). Your absence must be no more than one year and not recurring. You must maintain your permanent physical address in Ontario, and you cannot apply for support from the jurisdiction of your temporary residence. Ad hoc groups/collectives:
  • must  have 50 per cent of their members residing in Ontario
  • must be comprised of at least two members who are Ontario-based professional artists, artistic leaders or arts professionals, and who will be responsible for the administration of the grant on behalf of the ad hoc group/collective;
  • cannot be a corporation
  • can deposit a grant cheque in the name of the ad hoc group/collective
Note: Ad hoc groups/collectives come together for a one-time project (ad hoc group) or have ongoing activity (collective).
Organizations must:
  • be incorporated in Ontario or federally
  • have a head office in Ontario
  • be governed by a volunteer board of directors or an advisory board
  • have a designated staff member responsible for the applicant’s arts programming
  • present/produce/publish professional Ontario artists, arts professionals and/or arts groups/ collectives and/or arts organizations
The OAC supports the following types of organizations:
  • incorporated not-for-profit organizations
  • incorporated for-profit organizations (book and magazine publishers only)
Note: Publishers must be Canadian-owned and eligible for funding in OAC’s publishing programs.
  • colleges/universities
Note: The college/university must be registered through the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
  • municipalities
  • school boards
  • First Nations
  • schools administered by a First Nation or an Indigenous administered authority
The OAC may request documentation to confirm an applicant's eligibility at any time. If they are unable to provide documentation, their application will be withdrawn or any funds granted must be repaid.


  • You are not eligible to apply to any OAC project program if you have an overdue or unapproved final report in any OAC grant program. Note: Only final reports associated with grants received through Nova applications are displayed in your Nova profile. If you are unsure of the due date or status of any other final report(s), please contact OAC. 
  • If you have an overdue report for a previous grant at an application deadline, your application is ineligible and will be withdrawn.
  • You may only apply for one grant in any program per deadline.
  • Applicants that do not receive OAC operating funding are eligible to receive up to three project grants in a calendar year, provided each grant is for a different activity.
    • This three-grant limit per year is based on the date of the application deadline, not on the date the grant payment is received.
    • If you submit three project program applications during the year, you cannot submit a fourth until you have received notification that one of your applications has not been successful.
    • If you have already received one project grant in a year, you may apply for only two other project grants at a time; if you have already received two project grants in a given year, you may apply for only one other project grant at a time.
    • Grants received in third-party recommender programs are exceptions and do not count toward the three-grant limit. The recommender programs are: Exhibition Assistance, Recommender Grants for Theatre Creators (formerly Theatre Creators’ Reserve), Recommender Grants for Writers (formerly Writers’ Reserve) and Indigenous Visual Artists Materials (formerly Aboriginal Artists Materials and Supplies Assistance).
  • Operating grant recipients may receive a maximum of two project grants in a year. Check program-specific guidelines for more information.
  • The Creative Engagement Fund to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment in Ontario is an exception – grants given under this fund do not count as OAC grants.
  • The Indigenous Culture Fund is an exception – grants given under this fund do not count as OAC grants.

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Application deadlines

All project applications will be accepted until 1 p.m. ET on the deadline date.
  • The OAC does not accept requests for an extension to submit an application to any project program. You will be unable to submit your application through OAC’s Nova online application system (Nova) after 1 p.m., or revise or add additional materials after you submit your application.
  • On a deadline date, applicants already in the queue for technical assistance prior to 1 p.m. ET will be allowed to submit their application once their technical question has been resolved.  Applicants must submit their application immediately on the resolution of the technical issue or the application will not be accepted through Nova.  

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Nova online application system

To provide better service to OAC applicants, as of 2017, all project programs’ applications including your artistic examples, e.g. video or audio examples, are submitted online through Nova.

Nova is browser-based. You can access it from anywhere. There are instructions available on OAC’s website to walk you through the Nova system, from setting up your ‘Profile’ through to submitting an application.

You can begin an application two months before a project program deadline. Once the project program is open in Nova, our bilingual technical support staff will be ready to help with any technical issues.

Paper applications will no longer be accepted. However, OAC is committed to having an accessible application process, so certain accommodations will be made. These are outlined in our Inclusive Application Process Policy.

Project grant applications

Online applications for project programs are designed with several sections, e.g. Artistic Merit, Impact and Viability, to assist assessors in their evaluation of the applications. Project program  applications include questions common to all programs. Each application question will include writing tips specific to each program to assist you to answer questions or submit information on the application. In addition, many project programs require specific information about your project, e.g. a work plan, a list of persons involved in your project and a budget.

Remember, the assessors only know what you tell them. You cannot assume that they will know your work, your community or your cultural context, so be sure in answering the questions that you let them have all the information they will need to understand and assess your project.


Support for Deaf persons or persons with disabilities

Application accessibility support funding

Applicants who are Deaf or have a disability and need support to complete their grant applications can apply for funds to cover the costs of assistance from service providers. Up to $500 is available per eligible applicant in a year. You should request this funding at least six weeks before the project program deadline.

Please be aware that OAC may need advance notice to provide certain alternative formats and additional support in order for applicants to submit their application at the program deadline date.

For additional information, please contact the Information Services Coordinator soon as possible to discuss options.


Supporting accessibility costs for successful applications

Deaf artists and artists with disabilities who apply for a project grant may also include the cost of any anticipated accessibility expenses during the duration of the project.

This fund is open to applicants who identify as Deaf or as having a disability, ad hoc groups/collectives with one or more members who are Deaf or who have a disability, and incorporated organizations that have a mandate to serve Deaf artists and artists with disabilities and are disability-led (e.g. board/staff who are Deaf or identify as having a disability).
  • Eligible expenses may occur during the period of project creation, development, production, presentation and/or engagement.
  • Eligible expenses include costs for making a project accessible to audiences, participants or learners, but do not include capital costs or accessibility supports needed for day-to-day living.
  • Requests for these funds can be made after the point of application. Please contact the program officer who administers the program if you have any questions.
The OAC identifies Deaf artists as distinct from artists with disabilities based on the Canadian Hearing Society’s definition of “Culturally Deaf,” a term that refers to individuals who identify with and participate in the language, culture, and community of Deaf people.

The OAC identifies artists with disabilities as people who have physical, mental or learning conditions with long-term, temporary or varying effects that may be apparent or not.

For information about OAC’s Accessibility Standards for Service to the Public Policy click here.

Assessment and decision-making process

The OAC uses a peer assessment process to make decisions and operates at “arm’s length” from the Government of Ontario. All applications are assessed by professional artists and other arts professionals.  The membership of an assessment panel reflects the diversity of the applicants applying for grants, as well as OAC’s priority groups.

There are three peer assessment models used by OAC.
  • Juries are composed of assessors who are professional artists and other professionals in the field.  Juries assess grant applications in project programs and determine which applicants should receive grants. In programs that do not have pre-determined grant levels, juries decide on the amount of each grant.
  • Advisory panels are composed of assessors who are professional artists and other professionals in the field Advisory panels assess grant applications in operating grant programs and some project programs. Advisory panels provide advice and help set priorities for funding – they do not make final decisions on grant amounts. Officers make final grant recommendations to the Director & CEO or to the board of OAC, based on advisors’ assessment, OAC’s strategic plan priorities and policies, the program budget, and the number of applications to the program.
  • Third-party recommenders are organizations chosen from the artistic community to make recommendations for funding on OAC’s behalf in some of programs.
In programs outside the Francophone Arts Sector, assessment panels are held in English. If there are French-language applications in those competitions, at least one assessor is francophone. The OAC provides translation services for all French-language applications submitted to non-Francophone programs. If a competition receives enough French-language applications, a separate meeting with francophone assessors is convened.

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Application assessment

OAC’s project programs are assessed on either artistic merit, or artistic merit/merit, impact and viability. The assessment is informed by answers to the questions in each section of the application, artistic examples, support documents and a project budget.

For programs that include artistic examples, the examples are an important part in the assessment of the artistic merit of the project. For programs that include budgets, the budget is an important part in the assessment of the viability of the project.

Assessors will receive your application as submitted on the deadline date, including artistic examples and support documents.

Assessors are provided an evaluation rubric to guide their evaluation of applications. For more information, see the Guide to OAC Assessment.


Finding out about a grant decision

When grant decisions are made, approximately four months after the deadline, OAC will inform you by email that the results of your application are available in Nova. Please do not call or email OAC for this information.

Applicants must log into their profile in Nova to view the grant notification letter. 

The OAC sends grant cheques by regular mail.  If you are awarded a grant with no conditions, the payment will be released shortly after notification. If you are awarded a grant as an individual, you must enter your social insurance number and acknowledge the notification letter in Nova before the grant cheque is issued.

Some grants are awarded with conditions. The grant notification letter will describe the conditions that must be met in order to release the grant payment. 

If you get a grant

If you receive a grant you must acknowledge OAC’s support by placing the OAC logo on all printed promotional material and house programs.

At the completion of your project, you must submit a Final Report summarizing the activities for your project and any changes that took place.

If you do not submit a final report, OAC may require you to repay the grant. You, your ad hoc group/collective or organization will be ineligible to submit future applications to any OAC program or receive further grant payments from OAC until the grant is repaid or an acceptable report is submitted.

Funded projects must be completed no more than two years after you receive a grant. (see specific program details)

Some grants are awarded with conditions. The grant notification will describe conditions that may apply to your grant.